The Dimestore Apocalypse

I wake up feeling dandy-fine and candle-calm, like the lucky thousandth visitor of a site selling pucker-up girls for 99 cents or more. I step out of my apartment, to become a part of the world, and apart of the problem. Taxis streak the streets like mustard-swiped sleeves, while underground, subway sliders review the graffiti gospel, praying for the first lick of lemon to light the tunnel before they suffer a train aneurism.

On a skyline-scratched balcony, a feather-haired girl looks at the sky like a starling in a shoebox. Her eyes are afterthoughts, like decorative buttons on a cheap suit. The iron-oxidized bird-feeder hanging overhead sings along with the wind-whistle. She thumbs the pale ring of second-finger skin from her third calloused marriage, and waits with wine for her captain of light mourning.

Three blocks down, I drawl my drunkfoot across the Tic-tac-toe game of Manhattan, crossing exes and ohs on sharp-angled streets. I pass a woman wearing a saintly scintilla white blouse, the top two buttons ajar in peekaboo promise. I see my smile cease to exist in the reflection of her ray-banned eyes. She and other Beeswax Girls slice through the atmosphere like ocean liner voyager maidens, luxuriating in their locust-limbed beauty.

I walk down numberless streets, where Alt-Girls roll up their parlor-painted sleeves and securely expose tattoos of piercings covering their skull-shaped scars. They break the godspeed record for whiskey-swig swagger-fucks, like bitter Steampunk Sweethearts of the Rose Rust Rodeo. Their peeling black nail polish strips free all pompous circumstance, and how I’d die to howl behind their velvet-laden curtains for a fingernail of moon-shifts.

I find myself in the self-help section of a bookstore. Girls named after the day, month, or season they were born, line the carpet like green-sticker sale items. I wait for a Month to shift aside, so I can pretend to browse the poetry section. This Month looks like October, or perhaps Autumn. Girls named after seasons were book-smart, not fuck-stupid. She pushes her thick glasses back over her thin nose, and I see now she is Fall, and I feel like some well-read frosty Jack Winter, eating into the first blank pages of Spring.

The workaday sun makes overtime, as the moon idles by the side, waiting to punch in for the short shift. I head to a local haunt, where text-addict Thumbelina Girls spook the bar. I name these messenger birdies after characters in nonexistent blaxploitation movies I’d love to see. I narrow my eyes in a panoramic presentation of my upcoming fantasy.

Miss Fortune Kooky offers a stool to Calliope La Rosa,the gypsy night-blooming necromancer. They talk sass about putting Liberti Van Voodoo and her pushermen in a bad mojo coffin once and for all. I make a motion to picture a porno starring these ciphers, but the jukebox jives with a modern ditty, breaking my angels, and hark now these daemons sink.

I’m drawn back to my crayon apartment, where the lines bleed primary colors across catalog furniture and cataloged arguments. A grainy crime-scene photo of Mister Sunshine is taped to the fridge. He smiles above a group of decapitated Stickmen, their whorled, yellow-jellied heads and periscope limbs scattered across an empty beach. I am terrified. I am terrifying. In the sky, seagulls fly backward, ever nearing the well-fucked crack of dawn. A Stickgirl sits by a picnic table, her stainless steely-eyed gunmetal grin informing of a Happy-Go-Fuck-Yourself disposition.

I go into the bedroom where she lays, shower-fresh and expressionless. I breathe in the 99 cents of her dimestore shampoo hair-mess, and my passenger-head travels far to the apple orchard after the apocalypse. She is my secret inside pocket. She is my old west. She wears today’s styles as if they’re going out of fashion. She’s a blue-eyed soul Jesus, with never a crossword incomplete. She is the first coming.

I place my hand on her thigh to cold-shoulder my mind. She sees me as I see myself. I see her fringe as the night, falling over eyes colored of corrosion. She looks like a woman, but feels like redemption. She finishes sentences I’ve yet to begin. She says not to think too much, not too often. I think only of how the best poetry is written in her eyes as they bliss-rollback into nothingness.

Philip Tinkler